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Spartanburg Community College recently received a $526,225 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an allocation from Southern Appalachian Automotive Workforce, that will be used for curriculum expansion at the Cherokee County Campus based on Industry 4.0. The ARC grant will enable SCC students to access cutting-edge integrated systems training in Cherokee County that will prepare them to gain employment in the area's automotive sector.
Sometimes called "smart manufacturing" that involves state-of-the-art technology, Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. Intended to provide training for SCC students on new technology used by the automotive industry, grant funds will purchase an Industry 4.0 system with four modules: distributing, conveyor, joining and sorting, as well as two additional modules. The project also calls for the purchase of two Coordinate Measuring Machines and two Snap-On kits.
"This is a great opportunity for Spartanburg Community College and for Cherokee County," explains Jay Coffer, SCC's department chair of Industrial Technologies. "We estimate that this new equipment will benefit 51 students and 19 workers. That's 70 people who will earn associate degrees or certifications and 70 people with skills employers need."
All of the new equipment will be integrated in existing advanced manufacturing curriculum, as well as used in the automotive, mechatronics and machine tool technology programs offered by SCC. Additional modules, machines and Snap-On kits will allow SCC to offer two new certifications in torqueing and precision measurements. Additionally, the grant includes funding for training and certifying of seven instructors to train and teach students on the equipment.
With 20 automotive-related industries in the Appalachian region, the certifications and equipment training are in high demand by the automotive and automotive-related industries. Two automotive industries started scholarship programs enabling Cherokee students to gain experience while earning degrees. A third industry has expressed interest in hiring students who graduate from the programs this project enhances. Other area industries have also expressed interest in students trained on the new technology.
That's good news for Cherokee County, and for SCC. "We have a goal to match the skills employers need in their workforce with the training we provide our students," said Coffer. "This project accomplishes that, and that's really exciting."
In addition to the ARC funds, local sources will provide $225,525, bringing the total project funding to $751,750.